Valley Link

The Valley Link project, a 42-mile light-rail system that will connect northern San Joaquin County to the Tri-Valley and local BART stations, is estimated to bring as many as 22,000 construction jobs to Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

That’s welcome news for advocates of the plan and Tri-Valley officials eager for a financial boost in the wake of the recent pandemic job-loss numbers.

“Dublin has a lot to gain from the project specifically,” said Melissa Hernandez, Dublin City Councilmember and Tri-Valley – San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority Board Member. “The overflow of parking from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station into residential streets and onto retail and commercial parking areas near the BART station is a big issue in the city. Valley Link provides an opportunity for residents east of the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station, including those coming from the San Joaquin Valley, to get onto a train that will provide an easy connection with the BART trains — instead of driving and searching for a parking space.”

Hernandez went on to note Valley Link will provide passenger rail service to residents in Livermore.

“They’ve been waiting for decades. BART chose not to deliver an extension to Livermore, but Valley Link provides that service,” she said. “There will be at least two stations in Livermore, and for commuters, the service will be comparable to BART service.”

Key findings from the economic analysis plan — prepared by PGH Wong Engineering Inc. and released May 13 — include the potential for 22,000 jobs created in the construction phase of the project; $3.5 billion in local business sales also generated during the construction phase; the potential to support 400 jobs per year when operational; and the ability for Valley Link to generate $68 million in business sales annually.

“I am very pleased by the results of this analysis of the economic impact of Valley Link,” said Scott Haggerty, Alameda County Supervisor and Regional Rail Authority Chair. “This project will not only get our vital workforce to their jobs once complete, but will also add 22,000 jobs to boost the economy during the construction phase."

The plan is projected to cost between $1.88 billion and $2.5 billion. Designated funds for the project come from bridge fees ($188 million) and Measure BB ($400 million) and impact fees ($40 million). The remainder of the funds are expected to come from a combination of local, state and federal funding. Mike Tree, Valley Link Rail Service Executive Director, further noted the most likely funding scenario would be a transportation sales tax, with both the Bay Area and San Joaquin County filling a large share of the need in excess of $1 billion.

“FASTER Bay Area is a proposed transportation sales tax for a variety of projects, including Valley Link, that was looking to go to the ballot in November 2020,” he said. “However, with COVID-19, it has been moved to November 2022. San Joaquin County has been evaluating a potential transportation sales tax in November 2022 that would include Valley Link."

Construction work is tentatively projected to begin as soon as 2022, as preliminary design work could be completed by 2021, however, Tree indicated this would be the best-case scenario. If approved and placed on the ballot in 2022, Tree said those transportation sales taxes would likely fund a minimum operable segment of phase one, though he said it probably wouldn’t fund it all.

“In the event we don’t have all the money, we certainly have early operating segments identified where construction could start at the end of 2022,” he said.

Although the economic analysis model used by the American Public Transit Association (and presented along with Wong Engineering’s findings), doesn’t drill down as to what percentage of the 22,000 jobs would be available in the Tri-Valley, Tree did say that the opportunity would be great.

“With some 75% of the construction dollars in Alameda County and 25 percent in Contra Costa, the numbers, while not specific, do seem to track a heavier opportunity for local employment in the Tri-Valley,” said Tree.

Similar to the eBART project in Eastern Contra Costa County that links BART service between the Pittsburg/Bay Point Station and Antioch, phase one of the 42-mile seven station project would connect the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station to the proposed ACE North Lathrop station. A second phase would extend service from the North Lathrop Station to the ACE and Amtrak Stockton Station. Trains would be scheduled to allow for convenient transfers to BART.

The first Valley Link trains could be placed in service as early as 2027.

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